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Use Proven Resources - Success Stories: Special Projects

Stations that have participated in one of CPB's major giving programs feel energized and ready to advance their major giving programs. We want to capture this enthusiasm by sharing successes and new ideas. Do you have a major giving success story? By letting us tell your story on this page, you will encourage other stations to continue their major giving efforts. Simply write up your story and .

Topics of Interest
Topics of Interest

KUT-FM Secures $300,000 for National Project through Personal Solicitation

KUT at the University of Texas in Austin says it does not yet have a formal, articulated plan for major gift development. But the station has formed relationships with a critical few Austin philanthropists who can make things happen for the station and do. One donor has made three five-figure gifts in as many years and continues to be engaged with the station.

Another cultivation effort led to a six-figure gift from a family foundation. A station donor learned about the station's Latino USA production during a cultivation visit and invited a unique kind of proposal — a one paragraph description of what KUT hoped the program would accomplish over a three-year period. This "mini-proposal" produced a $300,000 investment!

General Manager Stewart Vanderwilt says, "You prepare yourself to be fortunate by maintaining contact with those who can make a difference. Simply staying in touch produces gifts and shows you the potential your station has."

WXPN Cultivation Leads to Five-Figure Gift

XPN has had great success with receptions and parties hosted by current major donors who've invited like-minded friends. Not only does the station benefit from the relationships the donor has with their guests, but they are also able to make the case one-to-one and address important questions or concerns that may be holding someone back from investing in the station.

One such person development officers met through a donor-hosted reception was familiar with WXPN, but did not understand that though it is a university licensee, it receives no funding from the University. The next day the station received a courier package with a check for $10,000. This donor is now XPN's largest individual contributor.

2006 PBS DevCon Award Winner: WPBT

TITLE | Channel 2 Celebrates, Connects & Collects!

GOALS | To celebrate 50 years of success in public television in South Florida; to identify, cultivate and solicit new major donors, especially Hispanics, and potential Board members through-out the region; to host three events in April and May with 750 donors; and, to net $100,000.

PROCESS | "How to best celebrate Channel 2's 50th Anniversary throughout our diverse viewing area from Key West to Stuart?" was the dilemma Board, volunteers and staff members debated. After several meetings the plan evolved. A one hour 50 Years of Channel 2 documentary was created and aired on the anniversary date August 12. That same day employees chose to celebrate with a luncheon honoring former employees. The Board chose to host three fund raising events — dinners in Miami and Ft Lauderdale and lunch in Palm Beach using volunteer host committees from each community.

Because Channel 2 does not host an annual gala, the recruitment of sponsorships was the greatest challenge and key to success. Table sales were another other key to success. After numerous attempts (Northern Trust, Carnival Cruise Lines and Lennar said no), Board member and Miami 50th Co-Chairman Cris Mendoza recruited Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida as the Regional Presenting Sponsor. Harvey Chaplin, a new board member, generously donated the wine for all three events. Other local sponsorships and table chairmen were recruited by Board, volunteers and staff. Although the Development Office organized the events, every department in the station contributed expertise including graphics, production, marketing, and underwriting. Each event had its own flavor, but they all had common elements: the same invitation, printed program, video, and evening's script. 1,000 invitations were mailed to major donors for each event, promotional spots were aired for each event, and the invitations were available on the Channel 2 Web page. Each event's program included recognition of the committee and volunteers, past and present Board members, sponsors were recognized in the program and on-screen; and a 7 minute video, a brief history of Channel 2's 50 years was shown. Each table host received a photo of their table with a thank you letter. All table hosts are included in our Donors of Distinction.

The Miami-Dade event was hosted by Board members Cris Mendoza & Bill Morrison and 28 volunteers. In February the Morrison's hosted a pre-event table sale party at their home. The Miami-Dade 50th Anniversary event was a dinner on April 20, 2006 at the Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne with 300 guests with a presentation by Jim Lehrer. Cris Mendoza successfully recruited several Hispanic table hosts. Guests received a copy of Lehrer's book A Franklin Affair and donor related materials. The Palm Beach event was hosted by Doyle Rogers (former Board Chairman) with Gay Hart Gaines (CPB Board member), serving as the honorary Chairman. Five members served on the steering committee to plan the event. They recruited 20 volunteers to be table hosts.

The Palm Beach 50th Anniversary event was a sold out luncheon at the Flagler Museum on Monday, April 24, 2006 with 250 guests and included a presentation by Paul Kangas of Nightly Business Report. Guests received a Nightly Business Report DVD China's Century of Change and donor related materials.

The Broward event was hosted by a Ray Rodriguez, board vice chairman, who recruited five volunteers to serve as the steering committee. The steering committee recruited 18 table hosts. The sold out event was a dinner at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on May 10, 2006 with 250 guests and included a premiere of Wild Florida with host Hunter Reno. Guests received a Wild Florida coffee mug and schedule of this new program and donor related materials.

RESULTS | We exceeded each of our goals and brought new energy to the board, volunteers and staff. The total revenue was $319,877. In-kind donations totaled $22,500. The total expenses were $156,777. The net income was $163,099 — 63% over goal! Gift Table: 1 $100,000; 1 - $20,000; 2 - $10,000; 3 - $5,000; 46 - $2,500; and 20 - $1,500. The most important lesson was to have a minimum of 3 targets for each solicitation level for each event and to keep asking. The celebration allowed us to approach new significant donors in each community and build a relationship. Palm Beach committee member Mark Cook (The Heart of Palm Beach Hotel) is being considered for a Board position; Broward committee member, Linda Gill (The Gill Hotels) has been asked to serve as a board member; and Miami Board members Jack Lowell and Ed Easton, who were previously disengaged, each sold five tables. Lowell and Easton have enthusiastically joined the major gifts committee and are reaching out to other friends who did not participate in the 50th events. All table hosts have been invited to serve on the major gifts committee.

IMPACT | Anniversary Celebrations are an opportunity to reach out to identify and connect to new major donors. Board and staff have 35 new major donor prospects to cultivate and engage. Board members became more engaged as they were able to showcase their involvement with Channel 2 to their friends and colleagues. Channel 2 serves a large geographic area. Holding multiple events maximized our outreach.

WXXI: Preparation Pays Off with $100,000 in Production Funding

Thanks to our involvement in MGI and the guidance of our consultant, we prepared a Funding Priorities Document with senior staff. It helped us focus on the areas that we want to ask Major Donors to support. Armed with this, we visited an older couple who have been tremendous supporters for many years. The wife is a former board member and a member of our Major and Planned Giving Committee. I brought a colleague who is the Executive Producer of our national medical series as well as many local productions. I had hoped they would contribute $10,000 for the coming year to support local productions. They asked me to return with an agreement a week later with no amount in it. They wanted to tell me the amount in person. Needless to say, I guessed it would be more than the $10,000 I had asked for. Imagine the look on my face when they told me they wanted to establish a programming endowment with $100,000! It was truly a memorable moment that pleased them even more than it pleased us. They do not want recognition for this very generous gift. It shows that some people would rather give their ultimate gift during their lifetimes — so don't be afraid to go for it!!

Submitted by:
Kathy Russell
Director of Major and Planned Giving

WSIU Receives $75,000 Gift for Operations and Digital Conversion

A family recently committed $75,000 to the WSIU stations over a five year period with $5,000 per year for operations and $10,000 per year for digital conversion. Previously, they supported the WSIU stations at the Leadership Circle of at least $1,000 annually and gave additional support ($1,000) in response to WSIU's Beyond Broadcast outreach challenge in June of 2004.

In a meeting with Dr. Renee Dillard and Dr. Candis Isberner of the WSIU staff to determine their next level of commitment, the donors made some very specific comments about the WSIU stations. They said that they can see WSIU's work in the community and that it is wonderful to contribute to WSIU because they can see the difference it makes and that they themselves are also impacted by WSIU every day. The donors also said that WSIU is good at communicating and that we do a great job (better than anyone else) at telling them how their support is used and what outcomes are realized by their contributions.

After some discussion of the donors' interests in outreach efforts and their support of WSIU grants and local productions, the donor asked "What does WSIU need and how can we help?" For annual operating support, we talked of continuing to target their money for local programs and community outreach; for the comprehensive campaign, we discussed WSIU's ongoing plans for digital conversion of our TV and FM production facilities to enable local programs to be produced in digital and to have students work in a state of the art setting.

The donors clearly understand the importance of annual operating support for the stations; they also stressed the importance of their financial support that could be discretionary and targeted for digital conversion to allow us to go for match dollars to leverage their money as we had done for other grants. The donors are aware of WSIU's digital conversion and grant support needs by their participation in the reception and dinner for our Digital Distribution Fund grant for WSIU-TV's master control in Fall 04. The donors have also been personally aware of and/or involved in several of WSIU's education and community outreach initiatives.

Since Fall of 2003, WSIU has received major gifts ranging from $20,000 to $75,000. The WSIU Friends Board launched a WSIU Friends Campaign to support WSIU's continued digital conversion in 2003. The WSIU Friends Board Campaign is part of the Comprehensive Campaign at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale; the goal for the WSIU stations is $4.5 million. WSIU Public Broadcasting was in the first class of the CPB MGI in Spring 2004 and is now in Phase 2.

Submitted by:
Candis Isberner, Ph.D.
Executive Director
WSIU Public Broadcasting

KCTS Secures $30,300 in 50th Anniversary Gifts

KCTS Public Television began a year-old celebration of its 50th Anniversary Year in December, 2004. We are weaving our anniversary theme into all our communications and special events with current and prospective donors.

When Robert MacNeil visited Seattle in conjunction with his new PBS series and book, Do You Speak American?, he graciously agreed to speak at a luncheon with over a hundred major and planned giving donors plus prospects. The event was hosted and underwritten by the Seattle Space Needle restaurant located near the KCTS station.

We placed a "soft ask" card with a return envelope for the 50th Anniversary at each place setting. Two of those attending, whom we had strategically placed at MacNeil's table, made commitments of $15,000 and $10,000 that day. Subsequently we have received four additional $1,000 gifts and four smaller gifts totaling $1,300, for a total of $30,300. Some of these are current donors, while others are new.

We also want to report that we have developed a viewer survey that has generated over 2,000 responses. A special version of this survey has been shared with both major and planned giving leadership donors. We have gathered vital information from both surveys, but the major and planned giving version has provided a wealth of new information and given us a great way to know our donors better. As a direct result of this process, one leadership donor has notified us that he is making a planned gift to the station through the sale of real estate. The survey revealed this gift expectancy.

Submitted by:
Jan Knutson
Major Gifts Manager
KCTS Public Television